“I’ve tried turning you into someone stronger,
but lately, I feel uneasy whenever I look at you.”
Simply put, Gunslinger Girl is about hopeless children who are granted another shot at life at the cost of their freedom and innocence. They are given cybernetic implants which enhance their combat capabilities and drugs which impose upon them unquestioning loyalty to their respective masters. Paired with their handlers, they are known as “fratello”, and they must face not only terrorists but the tragedies of the past and the uncertainty of the future as well.
Admittedly, the question “Does the end justify the means?” has been asked implicitly in
many other anime and manga. However, GSG is more realistic in its delivery and, some might argue, more socially relevant in the light of the so-called “war against terrorism.” The series shows people on both sides often pursuing honorable goals through questionable means, and the viewers are left to resolve the ethical dilemma on their own.
Nonetheless, the battles against terrorists, corrupt officials, and the mafia serve only as plot devices in most cases. The series focuses instead on the intertwining personal stories and the effects of the conditioning on the girls.
If analyzed individually, the characters themselves are relatively plain. However, it is their complex web of relationships which makes the series shine. The bonds between fratello cover a wide range of roles such as those of parent and child, elder and younger siblings, mentor and student, master and tool, superiors and subordinates, colleagues, and accomplices; and each pair shows varying degrees of compassion and indifference. Several antagonists also retain a certain degree of dignity, further blurring the line that separates “the good guys” from “the bad guys.” Every character has a unique personality as well as a plausible backstory, and these make their interactions all the more interesting.
The anime adaptation closely follows the events of the manga and is faithful to its spirit even with the introduction of new content in the later episodes. However, this may be one of those few instances wherein the anime adaptation is actually more successful in bringing out the full potential of the story. The pacing works better on the screen than on paper, and the quality of the audio and visuals give it the impression of a cinematic experience.
The animation is fluid, consistent, and brimming with fine details. The firearms are shown accurately to the point that it is touted by some as the gun enthusiast’s anime. Prominent brands, landmarks, and works of art are regularly featured, and these contribute to the distinct European ambience of the series. The animators also seem to have deliberately emphasized and blurred light and shadow, giving the show a certain haziness as if to reflect the moral ambiguity which permeates the story.
The soundtrack is composed primarily of intricate orchestral music and unusually devoid of typical J-pop, which seems rather fitting since the events take place in Italy. The Japanese voice actors did well in portraying their respective characters while the English dub is tolerable though stiff sounding in comparison.
As for the opening song, The Light Before We Land by The Delgados sounded odd the first time I listened to it but I later came to appreciate its significance. It’s hard to imagine that the song wasn’t written specifically for this series since its melancholy lyrics and melody fit the show like a glove.
Gunslinger Girl is sober both in content and execution, using a level of subtlety and realism that separates it from other tragic dramas such as Elfen Lied and SaiKano. The series refuses to deal in absolutes, painting everything in shades of gray rather than plain black and white. It shows tragedy and injustice but it also presents a moral dilemma which encourages the viewers to question if the sacrifices have been worth it and if the alternatives would have been any better.
Its open-ended nature would undoubtedly irritate/frustrate some viewers but I think it’s rather fitting for a series that emphasizes hope amidst uncertainty and misery. As Dr. Bianchi might put it, what the audience needs is not proof but faith that the girls would find happiness, even if the facts and metaphors suggest otherwise.
Gunslinger Girl is a very tough anime to summarize. Part of it is action, most of the story is drama, some sci-fi, and a dash of comedy make this a blend of many different genres. However, Gunslinger Girl nails the mark on every level, making this one of the most compelling anime shows I have ever seen.
The content of this show is ultimately the highlight, and also the whole reason for the controversy: young girls that have had their lives torn apart are given a second chance by having their memories wiped and insides replaced with mechanical parts, and are then trained to do
the governments dirty work. What further adds to the controversy are that the young girls have to have supervison by their guardian/superviser called the "handler". Now this may sound kind of wrong, but the story never veers into that perverted/pedofilic territory, which is a bit of good news, for those who were worried.
Now the story is the highlight of the show, and in turn, makes this a bit of a slow moving show. Don't get me wrong, it definetly has action scattered throught, and it is top notch when it takes place, but its nowhere as heavy as the story, however, I like that aspect. And what a good story it is. Henrietta, Rico, Triella, Angelica, and Clyce are all loveable, and their handlers even have a bit of backstory, including Jose and Marco, however the real stars are the girls.
The animation, even for being a 2004 show, is superb. The characters, the environments, and even the guns have a very real look, even though this is still an anime. When shown, the guns are rendered in painstakingly realistic detail. In the first episode, you can see how Henrietta layed out all the parts of her pistol on the table, yes all the parts. Even the reloading details are superb, and add to the realism. Lighting is also very well done, especially on the last episode with the fireworks, so this was the cherry on top of the ice cream for the animation/lighting.
Sound was another flawless piece. All the voices, and even the English dub, were fantastic. When you have the Japanese and English dub on the same level, you know you have a hit. To compliment the animation and detail on the guns, the sound is perfect. I have seen countless movies, and played many video games, and the sounds in this were perfect, and on key with the actual sounds of the guns of their real life counterparts. Test this, especially in the second episode where Rico is using the Dragunov sniper rifle. Awesome. Surround sound setups will definetly get their workout here.
Overall, Gunslinger Girl is a deep, thought provocing show, that really shouldn't be missed. The characters, the guns, and overall, the story, make this one to have on your must see list. Because of all the above, this is my all time favorite anime.
Any subject matter, whether it be disturbing or not, should not be shied away from being written into a story narrative because of the fact that it’s too dark for the mainstream audience to handle. Almost all of the well-regarded films since the last century have implemented controversial social commentary and bring about heavy subject matter that involve sex, violence, and political corruption. These days we don’t often see anime take advantage of showing people the deep impact our world has within the dark subterfuge of our own universal culture. For all intents and purposes, Gunslinger Girl will leave some people with a sour taste
in their mouths; whether they were expecting an action-packed girls with guns show, as the title Gunslinger Girl clearly represents just by saying it out loud, or because of the disturbing nature of the characters. The real argument to be made, however, is how it handles in developing those themes and characters mentioned beforehand.
To begin analyzing the way the plot is structured, it would be fitting to compare this to Stand Alone Complex in how every episode has its plot yet every one of them is connected from the development of its characters. Execution should be the key in establishing an overall impression of how we view each character through fresh and innocent eyes before they take away our innocence and make us experience the disturbing nature underneath the foreground of the show. Gunslinger Girl has one of the most heart-wrenching and almost beautiful representations of showing the development of each girl in question.
One scenario in particular involves one of the girls named Rico who is now put into a position where she has to eliminate any emotion regarding the job she is given, now she is thrust into a situation where she finds an interest of someone who makes her question her existence concerning why she’s a part of the organization. What makes the execution written so well is just how subtle you see her ponder about the questions that are coming out of her mind after the job is done, in a harrowing and deep atmosphere. Normally, dealing with robotic characters who ponder about love and how they question has been done to death in some instances and can be seen as silly or laughable, but seeing how the atmosphere is so serious and hardly has any inclination of humor in the characters makes it believable. It does still beg the question whether there should have been a more convincing or less clichéd way of bringing up melodrama, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a huge draw in the writer’s part.
With this in mind, however, one begs the question whether the writers only wanted to develop the girls fully and hardly bother trying to give the same amount of development for the “Fratello,” or the girls’ master that is given to them. Some people could argue that the point of the show was to focus on the girls instead of their masters mainly. That may be true, but even with that said they do try to give an inkling of development from how they question their organization and so forth. The problem is that they don’t ever go far enough, it’s as if they had an idea for how the adults would grow into a different mindset than before, but they decided that it wasn’t as important. Because of this, there’s nothing for me to feel about them, whether I should pity or sympathize with them other than the girls.
Narratively speaking, the plot doesn’t gain any weight as how it’s structured since there’s hardly a plot to follow other than the fact it’s mostly supported by character interaction. There are some episodes where the plot of one particular mission didn’t feel like it was written with any focus on how it was structured. As if they didn’t have a goal in mind when they wanted to establish any conflict or a stable plot arc, not to say all of them did but on occasion it does, and it can be distracting in parts.
The fact that the show is slow-paced does help in some cases to help us figure out what the world of Gunslinger Girl is like. The political climate and corruption are put into context how it impacts the characters and their struggles with coping it, whether they like it or not. There is an issue regarding how the show hardly gives any context to the actual political office in question. If you asked me now what the people in the government were like or what their motivations were, I couldn’t tell you because of how so little explanation is given to their reasons and therein lies how narrow the political landscape is like, unlike how Stand Alone Complex did it correctly in its political realm.
While it is argued that this is entirely different from your typical girls with guns show, that isn’t to say there aren’t tropes that can be associated with the genre. What is very interesting and intriguing about how they handle the violence and action is very intelligent and almost strategic in how the characters feel any given action scenario. While there are some questionable scenes, such as Henrietta pretending to be an innocent child to a group of terrorists inside a building where it’s evident that no one else but them is inside, how it is directed and choreographed is intense and realistic to its very core. It doesn’t glorify the violence to the point where it’s severely distracting; when you see a person get shot, you feel in your gut that he’s been shot.
Direction-wise the show is stellar in its animation and pacing, even if at times it goes a little too slow in parts where it didn’t need to be. The animation, while it isn’t amazing compared to others, is still done well from how the action scenes are played out in the end and the art designs of the characters are crisp and clear to the eyes. The one thing that typically wouldn’t be needed in discussing animations is the actual gun designs themselves that are almost on Angel Beat’s level of precision and detail in how they are portrayed as an embodiment of the girls. Almost like a subtle metaphor in how you see a gun next to a girl on nearly every scene they are on-screen, whether they are carrying it with them on a mission or if they are cleaning them.
The music in Gunslinger Girl is pretty to listen to, implementing excellent orchestration to capture the disturbing nature of the show’s framework. There is one aspect of the show that I wholeheartedly admire and commend with open arms, the sound design. It’s extraordinary how real and authentic it is from how the guns sound like actual firearms and not just cookie cutter weapons on any other anime, or movie for that matter, and the subtle ambiance of the show’s natural landscape. There was a moment where I almost wanted to cry from just how beautiful and somber the people who worked on the show put forward to crafting this realistic atmosphere that gives Gunslinger Girl its unique look and feels from other anime.
From its dark subject matter to its beautiful nature, this is a show that might rub some people off the wrong way. That can be understandable, but at the same time that should not sway people who are nevertheless intrigued in giving Gunslinger Girl a watch just to see how anime can go to unfamiliar territory in using familiar tropes and pull it off in a serious fashion. It may not be perfect in how they didn’t go far enough as it needed to be in establishing a well-rounded world that deals with political corruption, but as time goes on we have to at least appreciate the effort put into writing a gripping character drama with excellent development from our main characters, minus the supporting cast. We sometimes have to embrace the darkness of the real world in order to coup with our insecurities and Gunslinger Girl lives up to its credit as one of the most underrated that has these qualities to deal with.
At first I was a bit hesitant about watching Gunslinger Girl. I was afraid it’s going to end up too serious and too difficult to comprehend. I was wrong on both counts. The girls made the anime more suited to my taste (not like I’m a pedophile or a dirty guy or anything like that). It gets serious and hard to understand sometimes, but for most of the time, I actually enjoyed myself.
I’m a bit disappointed that it’s not as violent as I thought it would be. Sure there are bloody parts but they come at a minimum and
they’re not really that brutal. However, those parts were done tastefully so it’s all good.
It’s a nice plot, but I’m too afraid it’ll attract too many lolicons and pedophiles. I mean, preteen girls wearing nice, cutesy clothes and wielding weapons at the same time. Feeling that I’m watching an anime that attracts people like that kind of bothers me.
On the other hand, what I really like about it is the setting. Anything that has something to do with Europe, especially Italy, instantly captures my heart. I even picked up a few Italian lessons from the episode titles and the ending song.
Anyway, the illustrations are nicely done, but I found that the faces were too pudgy for my taste. For the girls, it’s acceptable, since they’re supposed to have baby faces, but even the adult women have huge faces and small eyes. Because of that, I got a feeling that the illustrations were influenced by the western style. The backgrounds were nice too. The colors of the background were more subdued compared to the characters’ so the complimented each other really well. Speaking of the colors, I noticed that the colors were mostly in cool tones, which fits the anime’s feel, which is also somewhat cold and indifferent.
However, the girls make the anime much more likable. They use guns (really kick ass ones too), they’re part mechanical, and of course, they kill people but I just find them all sweet. My favorite is Angelica, she’s the loveliest and gentlest of them, but I also like Rico. I feel sorry for her because she’s stuck with someone like Jean. I also like Elsa, despite her bitchiness – she seems interesting to me.
Voice acting is another aspect of this anime that I find favorable. Although I find it weird that they’re speaking Japanese fluently while in Italy, It’s not that bad. When they mentioned Italian terms/names, they had the correct pronunciation. Besides, this is not the first time it happened. Most of the seiyus are actually quite young, like Hitomi Terakado, Angelica’s VA. I think she’s only 19, but she did a good job. What surprised me is that Ami Koshimizu, Claes’ Seiyu, also did Tenma Tsukamoto from School Rumble and Anemone from Eureka 7. Those are three different characters, and I’m definitely impressed by her ability.
Music is actually quite impressive, and that’s thanks to Toshihiko Sahashi, who’s also responsible for Akazukin Cha Cha, Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny, Cutey Honey and Hunter X Hunter. I love the Delgados opening theme – it’s a touching song that’s also well made. The ending song, which was in Italian, was also nice to listen to. The background music was also nice, although most of them are a bit dreary – I like them nonetheless.
It’s not one of my favorites, but I thought it was very good and interesting to watch. It had the ingredients of a really good series, but I’m not too impressed by it. Although, I kinda want a second season just so I know what happens. The last few episodes were implying that something big was about to begin, and I’m curious as to what that thing is.
Manga, Anime: Gunslinger Girl was originally a manga by Yu Aida, is currently ongoing, and runs in Media Work's Dengeki Daioh magazine. It stands at nine collected volumes in Japan. ADV licensed the manga Stateside, and the last volume released was the sixth, back on November 30th of 2007. As of May 2008, ADV said that the rest of the manga would be forthcoming, but with the company's recent financial issues and its relicensing of several shows, it is unclear if the manga will continue to be released Stateside.
Gunslinger Girl is a thirteen episode anime that was produced by Madhouse
(famous for their work on Paranoia Agent and Death Note), and directed by Morio Asaka (famous for his work on Chobits and Cardcaptor Sakura). It ran on Japanese TV from October 8th, 2003 to February 19th, 2004. It has been licensed Stateside by Funimation, and the Viridian Collection Box Set was released on November 11th, 2007.
Story: The Social Welfare Agency of Italy supposedly is a government sponsored corporation involved in saving lives -- however, in reality, it is an agency that takes girls in terminal condition, gives them cybernetic implants, and uses "conditioning" to turn them into deadly assassins for the government with utter loyalty to their handlers, called "fratello". "Henrietta", who survived the brutal slaughter of her family and assault, is the agency's newest girl, and works along with four other girls doing the government's black-ops work.
This story is a study in duality; one moment, you see these preadolescent girls generally being preadolescent girls - giggling, talking with each other about things, being cute in general - and the next, they're gunning down or beating the shit out of terrorists with submachine guns or their bare fists. And the show doesn't let you forget that these sides exist within the same girls - the girls might be discussing plans for the night as they're in the middle of an operation, or they might be out to dinner and a threatening gesture makes them leap to protect their handlers. And it can be utterly unnerving to watch at times.
But besides this duality, each of the girls' backstories is at the very least hinted at, if not explored, and their personalities are developed quite well through the show, along with showing the darker side of what's been done to the girls. It's hard to watch at times, but it makes the story that much richer. And the general how and why of the agency and the process of making these girls into what they are is incredibly well fleshed out.
This would be all good and well if it weren't for how the story plays out. Most of the story is development of each of the girls, along with some more minor characters that show up throughout the series, and it's all done quite well, as I said before this. But in the last five episodes or so, there's an attempt at an overarching plot involving other agencies, and it kind of works, but the show leaves off with several threads still hanging. It's almost like this was the first half or so of a longer series, and the production team just never got the notice that it was only thirteen episodes.
Admittedly, there is a second season entitled Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-, but I don't know if it picks up where this season leaves off; I will probably end up watching it at some point in the near future.
Art: Madhouse did an excellent job with this production.
Their typical emphasis on realism makes the show that much more heartwrenching, because these girls act and are animated like your kid sister and given their own mannerisms, and that realism, combined with absolutely amazingly choreographed action scenes with mostly realistic moves, makes for amazing episodes, and plays into the duality of things. The girls themselves have very good character designs, and there's at least minor changes in their outfits from episode to episode, which is always good. Even better is that the scenery looks almost exactly like Italy; I can take pictures from friends who are in Italy, and put it side by side with stills from the series, and, besides the fact that it's animated, there is no discernable difference between the two.
Music: The background music itself is mainly orchestral and well-scored; it's not anything that particularly stands out or anything, but it's still quite well done. The OP and ED, however, are absolutely spectacular; the OP is a slower song with some excellent harmonies and is just a neat song in general, while the ED is a mix of techno and either Catholic mass-esque or operatic aria-esque, just an absolutely beautiful effect.
Seiyuu: There aren't any particular voices that I recognize, though I particularly like Triela's seiyuu, Eri Sendai. Otherwise, good job on the casting here, as always.
Voice Actors: I did watch one episode of this in English, as I bought the Viridian DVD set. All in all, the voice actors did a pretty passable job on here; some places where the voices are far too wispy where they shouldn't be, but otherwise, it's not half bad. The only real issue I have is that Triela's VA blatantly sounds like an older, adult woman, where the other girls are clearly younger-sounding voices; now, admittedly, Triela is the oldest of all the girls, and my all-around favorite, but she is not quite to the stage where she would sound like an adult woman.
Dub: Funimation did a pretty passable job with this. I have a few issues with them in how they chose to translate things, as the sub says one thing while the English lines say something entirely different; consistency matters, here, and yes, we do notice this. Oh, and speaking of consistency, on the subject of Henrietta's handler's name: PLEASE decide whether is Jose, Giuse, or Giuseppe - I saw all three variants of this name in the subs, and you seemed to switch between the names every two episodes or so, and it makes things incredibly confusing.
Length: As I said earlier, Gunslinger Girl feels like the first half of a much longer series; whether or not Il Teatrino is a continuation of where episode thirteen or not remains to be seen, but either way, there probably could have been better planning to give a bit more of a definitive ending, or a clear notice of continuation.
Overall: Gunslinger Girl is a series with beautifully developed characters, a well-fleshed-out world, excellently choreographed actions scenes, a great sense of duality, solid music and realistically detailed animation, great seiyuu and an atypically passable VA cast and dub. There are some issues with consistency in the dub and some VA casting choices, along with a story that only seems to be the beginnings of something bigger; however, Il Teatrino can probably rectify the story issues.
To say that the image of an ~11 year old girl removing a P90 from a violin case and wasting a room full of adult men is powerful would be an understatement.
Story: 6. I liked the premise, although it wasn't very original. This is a very character-centric piece, and any trace of an overall story that may be present merely serves as a means to develop the characters, which is fine. I'm still scratching my head as to why the assassins they use have to be young girls. They say that they use young ones because the brainwashing process is easier,
but why can't they be boys? I can only venture a guess: Nobody would suspect a cute little moe-blob holding a violin case to actually be a lethal cyborg, and nobody would suspect that the violin case actually holds a P90.
Art: 10. The animation is YEARS ahead of its time--a DECADE, I'd even venture to say. Compare it to other anime of 2003-2004 and... well, there's no comparison. It's even better than a lot of CURRENT anime out there right now. The style is extremely unique and interesting; I've never seen anything like it before. There is *huge* attention to detail, including but not limited to: the guns, the characters, the scenery, the art, and even lighting and shadows. Everything is clear, crisp, and fresh-looking. I'm amazed that even with current anime, many of them STILL seem to have trouble with animating simple movements like walking, and Gunslinger Girl suffers absolutely no problems in this regard. All in all: The visuals/animation are so good I had a hard time believing it was really from 2003.
Sound: 7. The OP and ED are very *different*. I don't care much for them; they're not my cup of tea, but they may appeal to other people. There's actually a shocking lack of general music to alleviate dead air or create a mood, but equally shocking is that it seems to work just fine without it. The tracks that we DO get, though, don't stick out at all. However, the voice acting (English) is pretty awesome--especially the ones playing the girls, and helps up the score in this regard here. The sound effects are also pretty good; they're well-synchronized with the visuals, and are also very detailed, down to the last bullet casing hitting the ground.
Character: 8. As I mentioned, this series is really all about the characters; namely, the girls and their interactions with their handlers. The girls all have their own tragic backstory that led them to get this lot in life (although not all are revealed), and each has her own colorful personality. It's interesting to see the massive variance in relationships between girl and handler: You have the handler that willfully spoils his girl and cares a lot about her; you have the handler who cares a lot about his girl but has a "weird" way of showing it; you have the handler who doesn't give a f*** about his girl and views her solely as a tool. Regardless of how the handler treats the girl, she's always devoted to him no matter what, because that's how the brainwashing makes them. Speaking of brainwashing, there is quite a prominent psychological element. It focuses a lot about how, in spite of said brainwashing, the girls are still very much affected by their past life, and how their past is still buried deep within somewhere--guiding their actions. Their conditioning also causes them to lose their memories and shortens their life span, and it's quite heart-wrenching to see. Equally as heart-wrenching is how the girls don't mind their lives as cold-blooded assassins, and their mindless devotion for their handlers--for better or for worse (although the latter can be pretty heartwarming at times as well). The handlers themselves are defined entirely by their interactions with their respective girls. The girls are moe without letting that quality define who they are as characters.
Enjoyment: 6. I liked watching it, but I didn't enjoy it much. Does that even make sense? Well, let's see... There was significantly less action than it seemed there should be. The action sequences were few and far between, which is a big shame, considering how incredibly well-done they are. The style of story telling is kind of a hassle: It jumps around randomly quite a bit chronologically, so it can take a while to piece all of what's happening at a given time together. Some people like this style of story telling, but I don't--especially with how random it is. To help illustrate, say that event 1 is the initial event chronologically, and event 10 is the final. Some stories go straight from 1-10. Some start at 10, then go back to 1-9. Some go 10, 1, 9, 2, 8, 3, 7, 4, 6, 5, where 5 is a key piece of information that fits the entire sequence together. But here, there are times when it looks like 9, 3, 7, 2, 5, 1, 4, 6, 10, 8, and it's a pain to keep up with.
Overall: 7. I wish I could've scored this better. I definitely liked it, though. If you like character-centric anime with good art and some action and psychological involvement, definitely give this a try. If you want a unique/driving story, tons of action, or an outstanding soundtrack, you may want to pass this up.
My review is not all on the positive side, I don't know whether I see it from a different angle. But take it for what it is, for this is perhaps a different opinion.
Advantages: Good character construction; Beautiful Scenery
Disadvantages: Long wait periods; No active plot line; depressing; cold characters towards one another.
"A good job is the constant pile up of simple duties." Henrietta
The characters in the anime are well thought out and quite honestly beautifully crafted. They are well made in the sense that they have both skills and flaws instead of just one or the other like in most animes. The are
given back stories and pretty straight forward reactions to events, even if the reactions are not what you expected.
The graphics are very pretty and well done. THe shots are in line with the way an actual gun fires and the music adds to the effects. Despite being kind of classical that you might actually want to sleep to. Those are the upsides to this anime.
But when you looks at the flaws, it is hard to see how it is so popular. My biggest pet peeve is that the episodes don't follow any kind of storyline. There is an episode for each character that doesn't move forward in any overarching plot.
The camera will sit on some images for a really long time, some episodes you spend one third the time watching the sky or the grass or some random image, while the characters wait for the mission to commence. Which is kind of obnoxious, and since the music is as slow as the talking scenes you can't watch this when you are tired.
Another thing is that the over mood of Gunslinger Girl is kind of depressive. Nothing positive is ever portrayed and quite honestly the girls are treated like trash. Which is something that the anime really doesn't need.
In this anime being less then perfect makes everyone cold towards you, so bless the stars that you dare mess up anything.
I like action anime and drama but I just found this kind of sad. Lacking in any plot construction.
An idyllic bay overlooked by a Mediterranean city fades into view, church bells tolling in the background. The scene basks in the omnipresent light. It is an important setting: beautiful, honestly and truly, with no reservation. What transpires is another matter, but this first impression should be remembered.
A man and girl walk into the scene. The man's gaze is inscrutable, but it is not one of appreciation for the beauty. Turning to look at the girl behind him he muses on their relationship. "She's my sister..." Her stare back is a mixture of doll-like emptiness and ready anticipation.
It isn’t unhappy, but it isn’t happy either. Simply…attentive. There is the sense she was wearing this visage before he looked at her.
The man begins to walk again without saying a word. His ward's face lifts ever so slightly and she scampers after him eagerly. Like a dog following its master, or a duckling instinctively falling into line. The automaticity with which she stopped and started seems completely natural to her. The narration continues as they move offscreen. “Brother and sister. People joke about it, but what are you going to do? It’s pretty much the truth.”
There is something disconcerting about this situation. The opening scene presents the viewer with a conundrum: what is the relationship between these two? The man's tired explanation is clearly insufficient, and the offhanded way it is offered suggests he hardly believes it himself. He certainly finds the joke in poor taste. The girl is uncanny, her focus never leaving him for a moment. A brittle rationale coupled with an eeriness of behavior sets the stage for the series.
Gunslinger Girl is a peculiar and profound anime. Its description, that of a clandestine government organization modifying young girls for use as assassins, is unimpressive. The anticipation is an action series that mixes the usual glorification of force with a heavy-handed bid to garner sympathy using children in distress. Just another emotional joyride, one which ends promptly and safely with the final episode. Rate on MAL, post which girl was best, and then move on.
Gunslinger Girl is not this series. A closer investigation will reveal that the violence is not heroic, the anguish not contrived, and the suffering not a spectacle. It is a sincere depiction aiming to inform rather than entertain.
This series is not for everyone. It is both muted and slow, focusing on the psychological interactions between the characters. However, it is the opposite of dramatic; many of the strongest feelings, the most painful and joyous moments, are marked with little more than a slight adjustment of the eyes or mouth. The characters must be watched to be understood, and the significance of events only coming to light after some reflection.
Seething beneath the interplay lies something...wrong. This situation is demented, the usage of innocence in this fashion grotesque. It is a horror that rarely comes to the surface, but continually darkens the atmosphere and deepens the melancholy. I have seen Gunslinger Girl critiqued as a moral quandary concerning the of use of children as weapons. This is incorrect: it is a refutation of using the girls this way, of everything the Social Welfare Agency stands for. The magnitude of the depravity cannot be properly expressed, if for no other reason than that of decency: this suffering is not so cheap as to be worth only our voyeurism.
The result is a deeply haunting series, for there is universality in the setting. An identification of loss and pain, of impending mortality, of a sense that things are not quite right with the world. While Gunslinger Girl is substantiated by its well-crafted details, they should not obscure this point. What happens is less important than why it does, or that it is possible to happen at all. Its lack of plot and antagonists is a fundamental reflection of this emphasis: it isn't about resolving their story, for there is no resolution to be found.
If this were the full extent of Gunslinger Girl, it would be worthy of praise for its expert and tasteful handling of the subject matter. A grim tragedy of expendable innocence. However, there exists yet one more layer to the series, for which all of the above serves as a backdrop. What is this core ethos, then? I do not mean to sound cryptic, but as best a summary that can be given is that it is a meditation, a reflection on the unmitigated suffering and an affirmation of something beyond it. I will expand on this no more here, as I would inevitably fail.
Despite appearances, there is a story underneath the series' episodic appearance. It is a story of Henrietta, and is twined closely with the allegory in a way that unites her psychology and dynamic with a greater meaning. It is not, however, particularly dramatic and expectations otherwise should be trimmed to avoid disappointment.
That said, this is as good a place as any to remark on the uneven quality of the episodes. While most are very high, a few of the middle episodes feel notably inferior to the surrounding ones. The series is not ruined for this, but given my devotion I like to offer full disclosure.
The series is beautifully animated. There is a remarkable attention to detail which aids the verisimilitude. Inherited from its source, the weapons and firing technique are given unsurpassed effort. The major locales (Rome, Florence, Siena, and others) are all identifiable from their depictions alone. Finally given the importance of psychological states, the facial expressions are exceedingly subtle. All of this is drawn in a muted pastel which perfectly reflects the beautiful-but-melancholy atmosphere.
With this said, the series certainly has its failing moments. There are a few scenes which reuse animation (not the first two episodes, but later events which are intended to be separate). There are also some scenes which have poor overall quality, but these are never the crucial ones. The series put its budget in the right place.
The sound work is good. I am no expert, but given that the weapons all sound different I presume just as much attention was given to their audio as their visuals. But what really stands out is the sound track, a composition in the classical Western style that matches the Italian setting. If you want to know Gunslinger Girl, just go to YouTube and listen to "Tema I," "Silenzio Prima Della Lotta," or "Tristezza." The series also secured the use of, "The Light Before We Land" by the Delgados for the OP, and is half the reason I never skipped it while watching.
Like the art above, there are a few quibbles here and there. In particular there is a "punch" sound in episode one which sounds comically out of place. But nothing that could be considered a significant failing.
The characters are in some ways unremarkable, but in others very real. There are no standout personalities that define the series. Yet that does not matter, for the genius is in their reality and depth, both as individuals and in the unique relationships they share with their handlers.
The series constructions these skillfully with minimal exposition. It does not tell us what the characters are thinking and feeling, but instead demonstrates them through the actions they take and the expressions they wear.
I cannot offer a rating here, for it is my earnest belief that to completely get Gunslinger Girl is to recognize that it is not entertainment. It isn't unpleasant to experience, but neither is it pleasant. I have never cried while watching it, but have been reduced to tears when contemplating it later. It fails all normal metrics of enjoyment: it does not seek to evoke emotional extremes but muffle them. The action is infrequent and brief. Sexual titillation is entirely absent. It exists for another purpose.
Gunslinger Girl is more than the sum of its parts. In execution it is superb, in message sublime. I find it to be deeply resonant, subtle, tragic, and beautiful. It is my heartfelt recommendation that every thoughtful person take the time to view it.
To preface: I absolutely abhorred this show. While I'm about to bring up many things that I felt were bad with the show, and I'm going to bring up a lot in a concise manner (as I may do an in depth video review in the future) I feel the need to quote my bio on MAL. "Please note that while I intend to be as critical as possible, everyone views a work differently. All my reviews, at heart, are nothing more than personal opinions."
Gunslinger Girl is an abstract way of telling stories about different platonic relationships men have with young girls. By abstract, I
mean very loosely using the plot point that the girls are revived from near death by implementing bio-mechanical android capabilities a la Deus Ex (The amount of, "I never asked for this!" is unreal in this anime). I say 'loosely used plot point' because the whole premise isn't really used all that well to infer it's necessary inclusion. As you watch, it's never explicitly mentioned who the girls are fighting against or for, what their end goal is, what's beyond that goal, what makes them important in the world they're in, etc. Now, anyone could say I'm missing the point, because the show isn't about the world so much as it is the girls and how they perceive it, but it's hard to sympathize with any of them when the world isn't shown in any fashion to me as a viewer.
For instance, the show goes from one character to the next in an episodic fashion and gives us different settings, characters, and motives for everyone. This would be fine if there was an underlying goal that each character was working towards. If the company they worked for was trying to get a certain target and these missions where to get said target to reveal themselves, then that's enough of a foundation for me to keep interest. However, each episode opened up with new EVERYTHING, so not only did I have to learn new motives, but the setting these girls were interacting with, and then I had to interpret how they interpreted the events, making me wonder what the hell the creators were attempting to interpret.
Just a mess. A real big mess. There's an event that takes place near the end of the show that seems to have some semblance of a goal that could have made for a great mystery throughout the show, but it showed up far too late in the series to redeem anything, and at that point it was already so miserable and boring to watch I just couldn't care who or what the characters (who, at that point, I knew well) wanted or worried about.
Not only that, some of the conflicts aren't relatable to begin with. Now, the power of storytelling is you can make any fantastical situation believable and relatable through the power of strong characters and circumstance. The key thing here is that Gunslinger Girl is just a tad too unbelievable to get behind. There isn't really an effort to make sense of why young girls are chosen other than the writer wanted to satiate some sort of disgusting fetish of his or he just wanted to be a little edgy with his world building. "Oh, we could have random people be revived and become android people. Better yet, why don't I pick LITTLE GIRLS? That'll tug on the heart strings! And if not, at least it'll make my loins tingle seeing girls shoot people dead!"
I'm hyperbolizing, no doubt about it, but when the show spends little-to-no time giving any depth to the world it's set in, poorly writes reasons for reasons, and attempts to discuss somewhat mature discussion themes, you have to wonder what's going on in the minds of those behind the screen.
Credit where credits do. As an episodic show, there were 2 that I found enjoyable and fairly tight. Again, the little arc at the end of the show was somewhat engaging and I really do wish it was prolonged from the beginning to end to give me some kind of hook. Anime can be short but when I commit to a show I hate to think I'm stuck spending 4 hours being miserable and bored the whole time.
I didn't find the animation all that engaging and the washed out filter every color had was so grimy and disgusting. The show wasn't pretty (not that it had to be) but the gritty feel didn't seem to fit, either. Is it so impossible to add a bit of warmth to your series without it seeming like a film of dust coated the lens?
Similar to the story, the artwork is forgettable. Character designs are enough to tell everyone apart but I've already forgotten what they look like. Perhaps that's because, thankfully, everyone looks close to realistic in this show, but when I think about other shows with realistic character designs (Texhnolyze, for intance) I can picture a character in my head and their design immediately. Perhaps that goes to show the importance in characterization when it comes to design, but also, it's possible that this is a FAULT of poor characterization. I don't know. I just know what I know, and I know the artwork is quite tasteless. It's not like eating wet bread, but more like toast without cinnamon. Just crusty sustenance to get you through the day.
Things sound alright and the OST is functional at best but there wasn't anything spectacular. There's a them of classical music used throughout the show but it feels really pretentious considering the show itself failed to exceed any value beyond "boring and ridiculous." I don't know what could have been used in place of it, but I do know that it's laughable and snooze worthy.
Also, the best part about the OST is that one of the low toned tracks sounds just like a song used in Disney's Haunted Mansion ride. Better yet, it's not even the song USED on the ride, it's a song that plays in line as you go into the mansion. Holy cow, I couldn't take any scene seriously when that song came on.
I don't know what else I can say about the characters. I've said so much in the story section and I even had a part discussing them in the art segment. What else can I say? They're not just underdeveloped, they then treated like important and relatable characters at all times.
Miserable. Miserable. Absolutely miserable. I was so bored. I couldn't wait to be over with this anime. It was so uninteresting and everything about it was a complete turn off to me. I enjoy introspective narratives, I like tactical espionage with a splash of science fiction, but I mean, come on, the second episode nearly repeated the first half of the first episode, and then later in the series the same scenes are shown AGAIN. Do you know how CONFUSING that is when your SECOND EPISODE seems so similar to the first? I thought my Netflix messed up replayed the first episode. Holy cow, who storyboarded this show?
((If you liked this review, check out my other reviews by going to my profile and clicking the 'reviews' tab. I review virtually all anime and manga I find!))
What to make of this title? Cybernetically enhanced adolescent girls? Modern military grade small arms and light weaponry? Terrorists? Ah... I know! Girls with guns. Girls on guns. Plying with them. Playing with them. Toying with them. Touching them. Kicking ass. Showing some as well. Skirts so short flipped up from the gusts of grenades. Breasts scantily clad baring through the air as the rest of their curvaceous figures hit ground. Bodies, barrels, bullets highlighted to the finest set of orgasmic ecstasy. If these were your first impressions, slap yourself and get real. Or leave and never look back.
An anime adaptation of a manga of
the same name by Yu Aida, Gunslinger Girl was directed by Morio Asaka and produced by Madhouse, the same studio responsible for animating such shows as Death Note, Chihayafuru, Casshern Sins, and Death Billiards. We enter Aida's fictional universe, an officially united, yet undoubtedly divided Italy under siege by extremist groups based off the real world discontent of a prosperous North having to provide for the indigent South. To combat the violent dissent, the Italian government established a secret armed group. Officially, it conducts medical research and provides prosthetic assistance to the public as the Social Welfare Agency. Its primary objective, however, is the eradication of terrorism via the use of cybernetically enhanced assassins. Studies conclude that adolescent female are the most pliable to being “conditioned” for the role, yet how does one find a supply of them without drawing unwanted publicity? Simple: take the poor ones, the broken ones, the ones dealt so cruel and wretched a fate that no one would notice or care if they disappeared. Victims of massacres, mutilations, poverty, and paralysis... of desperation, depravity, indifference, and avarice, they are fixed up, made to forget everything, and are soon after sent off to and for the slaughter. Yet, there's a bug to the brainwash. Mechanical as they are, these assassins aren't unthinking or unfeeling. They aren't devils.
One common criticism of this show revolves around the implementation of its action segments. Whenever action occurs, it ends too quickly to really savor. To this, I say it's unwarranted: it would be dumb for any professional assassin to take his or her sweet time when a confrontation gets hot. Success in that line of work is parts preparation and decisiveness. Realistically, the actual moment of take down is brief compared to the long periods of wait to make it happen. But there are many regardless who prefer the majority of their armed external conflicts consist glorified death matches, to which I say once more: This probably isn't the show for you. In fact, be glad most of the tedium of preparation is omitted. In their conflictual place is the show's gem: introspective dissonance at what's been done. When we see characters enter and leave a shootout, the viewer isn't meant to feel a sense of adrenaline pumping elation over the fact you killed a bunch of generic baddies. Rather, you feel sobriety for the consequences and implications behind killing these baddies, who may not, in fact, be just baddies. And then there's the act of killing in general, especially how frighteningly desensitized these girls are behind their barrels. If you haven't realized from the synopsis in the last paragraph, there's no definitive camp of good or evil. Both the separatists and the government fight for the causes they believe in are just, for reasons that are both consider legitimate and sympathetic. Both use dubious means to see them through, in particular, the Social Welfare Agency's use of what effectively are child soldiers. The handlers of each have own approaches to dealing with the specific one under their care, and their own misgivings (or lack thereof) toward the government's foremost stance on them as killing machines. Each of the child soldiers in turn have their own personal dynamic toward their specific handler, though common denominator between them is a form of love. Whether that love is artificial or natural, something genuine or an obsession, varies with each pairing, or fratello, as the show takes its sweet time meticulously mapping them. The slow and steady pacing is just right to cover this facet among others, when the girls are on the job and when they are off it in between. In a sense, it makes the atmosphere all the more melancholic, in a resplendent, yet somber sort of way.
What else contributes to this atmosphere? One is the cinematography. Every background and object, every sequence of animation is beautifully and fluidly rendered, respectively. Though look closely. The somewhat faded colors, off-color lighting, and carefully placed shadows... it all plays off wonderfully to the maturity of the character designs and the show's general tone.
Two is the immersion. An indicator of excellently executed immersion happens when one can honestly watch a show and feel that its universe can trump on in time regardless of whether or not there happens to be an audience watching. Combined with the fact that many of the tensions explored throughout the series are very real issues in real life and the meticulous attention to detail, not excluding the accurate design of each gun and the mention of each gun's specs, every plot-essential element, every plot-shot character, and every plot-important motivation is so seamlessly integrated, that if were one were to momentarily disregard that cyborgs exist in the capacity that is presented in the show and that separatist movement never historically became as terribly tumultuous as the show presents it as, the show can, in turn, become something of a real experience.
Three is the music. The OP “The Light Before We Land” is an English number sung by the Delgados. Combined with the crash of the drum set, the strum of the electric guitar, and the embellishments of the chorus, the female singer, complemented by a male vocalist in the background, has this harrowing air, reverberating with power yet, at the same time, calm. The ED “Dopo il Sogno ~ Yume no Ato ni” by Opus has as its title a mixture of Italian and Japanese: “After the Dream: There is no Dream After All.” Featuring the vocals of a female, complemented by the pipes of the organ, the reverberations of the marimba, the plucks of guitar strings, and brushes on cymbals, crooning Italian in an expressive, operatic style, the crooning broken into two parts by what sounds like some form of prose. It overshadows the OP's and ED's rather lackluster visuals, the former consisting of a rather plain set of introductions of the main girls, the latter simply an image of a spent handgun and casings laying about in the rain. The OSTs of worthy note throughout the show, at one time given its own seconds to cry out, come in various in different versions, I, an orchestra, II, a lone violin, III, a lone piano, IV, a piano, a choir, a string section, a wind section, yet carry a similar melody, a similar truth, a similar pain. A similar tone. TEMA
There's a couple of things about this show that I have to take from the show. A good portion of Episode 2 was more or less a differently angled retelling of the events of Episode 1, and while Episode 9 introduced some excellent characterization, it took some of the edge off what was supposed to be a bombshell revelation in Episode 10. Nitpicking aside, Gunslinger Girl's semi-major problem isn't what it has. It's what it doesn't. The show spends quite a bit of time towards the fleshing out the characters in how they fit with the universe. It's all well and good, but little goes out toward the development of these characters overtime, and what development occurs gives more credence what's going on in the background versus what's going on with them. This isn't to say each character doesn't feel whole and distinct, but I wished there was a little more to them that I could work with. But then again, I'd rather have the current product, pacing and all, over something rushed.
FN P90, Winchester Model 1897, SVD Dragonov, Steyer AUG A2, H&K VP70M. Henrietta, Triela, Rico, Angelica, Claes. In the end, they aren't quite just weapons themselves. In the end, they are still people, still children. In the end, and if you has the patience to see this show as it is through to the end, you may realize, in both your mind and your heart, your brain and your bowels, that they are still adolescent girls.
Remember Luc Besson's work from the early 1990's: Le Femme Nikita, Leon the Professional, etc.? Imagine an alien from outer space watched those movies and knew that nearly all humans liked them. However, the alien can't comprehend why people liked those movies and what exactly it was that made them so good. The alien also has no understanding of human emotion or logic. Now imagine that the alien decided to steal various plot elements from those movies and paste them together into something he thinks the humans would enjoy. The result is Gunslinger girl. This fails as an enjoyable action, an emotional drama, and literally
everything in between. The Italian government is paying tens of millions into a program to turn little girls into cyborg killing machines and extensively train them into assassins. Little girls with no training are chosen over already trained soldiers because the girls are supposedly easier to brainwash into emotionless killers. Apparently the Italian Army is completely lacking in sociopaths who already are incapable of feeling empathy or remorse and don't need expensive brainwashing therapy. Also, this plan turns out not to work anyway because the girls can feel emotion after all. Hilariously, the cyborg surgery gives these new assassins an extremely short life span, which is mostly spent having to train them. They are good for only a few missions before they die. The Italian government is probably paying 100 million dollars per hit with this cost inefficient program. They could have used that money to buy MQ9 Reaper drones which will last far longer, perform far more hits, and are much deadlier tools of assassination that don't actually cause any more collateral damage than the average member of the "gunslinger girls" brigade. If Gunslinger Girls was an accurate assessment of how the Italian Government conducts business, it would at least explain the massive debt and pathetic war record.
STORY: The story really shows the audience the hardship that these girls go through. The creators have done a really good job on getting the audience attached to the girls and then exploiting that emotion.
ACTION: The action in this anime is very well done, it is paced just right and very fluent. There are no outrageous punches thrown or slow motion punches every 5 seconds.
ART: The art work is very well done and very professional. You can deferentially see that the creators spent time and dedication with the art work.
SOUND: The audio is very well done too.
The voices don't make me cringe and I really enjoy watching the dubbed version. The only complaint I have about the dubbed version vs the subbed version is that there are a few times where someone will say something completely different in the dubbed than in the subbed and it changes the episode a bit. Other than that the audio is great.
CHARACTER: The characters are very well designed and each have a different type of personality. None of the girls are over the top happy, but are instead just the right amount. As I watched the series i begin to have an attachment with the girls and really start to feel for them and the life they have. The creators of this series did not leave one blemish within the girls personality and all are very unique and amazing.
ENJOYMENT: This anime really had me wanting to watch more. This is one of those few shows that have the right mix between action and drama. I consider this the most enjoyable anime i have ever seen.
OVERALL: Between the action, drama and characters, there is no reason why I would rate it any lower than a 10. The show performs perfect mixtures of elements(Where most shows fail at), and has outstanding characters and artwork. I could watch this show a thousand times and still would want to re-watch it. It is truly and amazing show!
Themes: Girls with Guns, Sci-Fi, Action
Age Rating: TV 14+
Story - The story is one that hasn't probably ever been done before, because of the sheer edginess of the topic it deals with. The story was rather original, although it does take it's basis from a rather widespread genre. The story was well executed, and left you happy at the end. You actually felt a connection with the characters, and felt their emotions.
Art - Some of the best art I have seen in awhile. Everything is detailed, I mean everything. The bullets shine when they are coming out of the gun. The
girl's hair flows. The blood is well done, but not overdone, and I think that that was a very good take on the producers part. The blood is realistic amount, when somebody gets shot, they bleed, like they would in real life -- their head doesn't explode and gush blood for the next twenty seconds as the camera pans around their corpse, like in many other series. Realistic art, and great character designs. All the girls, although around the age of twelve, were dealt with in a good way with their designs, and no fan service was given.
Sound - Great sound. I watched this series subbed, and the Japanese Vocal Soundtrack is great. All the voices fit the characters, and are believable. The guns sound effects are what really bowled me over though. The noises that the guns make are unbelievably crisp and realistic. You hear each individual shell fall to the ground after they shoot. Also, at the end, the girls sing along to Beethoven's Ode to Joy, which was a nice touch, it being the best song ever written. (Not opinion -- FACT)
Characters - I felt that the characters, who are all young girls and their masters were done outstandingly. All the girls were designed not as much cute as they were with womanly charm. The characters are great - you feel their emotions, you get attached to them - everything. There is also quite a bit of character development in this anime, which is great.
Enjoyment - I enjoyed this so much that it was literally hard for me to stop watching. Time flew as I watched this anime, and before I knew it, I had watched the entire thing in a day. Fans of Girls with Gun-type shows or NOIR will absolutely love this series.
Overall - A rare gem. Go out and pick up this classic as soon as you can, you will enjoy it.
Gunslinger Girl is an ongoing manga written by Aida Yu. The manga has been going for close to a decade so it's only natural that it has some adaptations. Including a series of PS2 games, an OVA and two anime series. Let's take a look at the first anime which originally ran from late 2003 to early 2004.
Gunslinger Girl doesn't have an over-arching story. It's a series of episodes, mostly stand alone, which are connected by the overall scenario and the characters. The premise is that you have a government agency that enhances young girls with cybernetic parts and conditioning and then sends them on
missions, mostly involving counter-terrorism. The episodes are really interesting and they cover a lot of material focusing primarily on the girls. The action scenes are intense and the series has a lot of spectacular moments. It forces the viewer to think about the morality of the situation since, in many ways, the girls are better off now that they're part of the agency. The only real story issue is that a few episodes reuse parts of earlier episodes for no real reason and it feels like needless filler. This is especially true for the second episode.
The characters are especially important in Gunslinger Girl, since the story revolves around them. Fortunately, the characters are very well done. They have a lot of complexity, they interact well with each other, they have interesting back stories and the major characters have to be the most adorable killing machines ever, especially Claes. The only real issue with the characters is that Henrietta's crush on Jose gets annoying really quickly. There's one other girl with that kind of dynamic with her handler, but they only appear in a few episodes so it doesn't have much time to start getting on your nerves.
The art is excellent. The background and characters are all very well down. The guns, stars and other various objects are very realistically detailed. The whole things catches the viewer's attention. The art is very carefully used to draw your focus to specific points for important scenes and the effect is spectacular.
The voice acting is very good, most of the time. Unfortunately, there are several foreign words and names that are used in the series, since it's set in Italy, and a lot of them aren't pronounced properly. I know, they're not using their native language, but you'd still think that the director would learn how to pronounce these words and pass that on to the actors. The most distracting of these, because it's mentioned the most frequently, is "Jose", which is said all the time, since he's an important character, and never gets said properly.
The yuri factor is a 2/10. There are roughly three scenes that are slightly homoerotic, but there are very few of these scenes. The girls are all friendly towards each other, but it never goes beyond that.
My final rating for Gunslinger girl is a 9/10. It's masterfully put together. As a character study, it really works. I only have a few complaints and they're pretty minor. If you're a fan of high-paced action and complex characters, I would definitely check it out.
"Pupa perfume and an Amati violin... That girl must be the beloved daughter of a wealthy family."
This quote, whose subject is nobody else than Henrietta and the speaker a bomb-making terrorist, is probably the best representation of this series. Its irony is not only painful but extremely clever.
As one who've read the synopsis would guess, Henrietta is not the daughter of a wealthy family, but a trained child assassin that carries her P90 automatic rifle on a violin case. The perfume is a "reward" she received from her Agency guardian for the successfully termination of an 8-members terrorist group.
She doesn't have a true family, and
whenever she'd be truly loved and cherished if she ever failed on her duties is unknown.
Still, if they've met 2-3 years ago, that bomb-maker would be right on the spot. Henrietta used to be, and have, all of those things, 'till the day violence struck her life and killed her family. She was supposed to be dead with them, if it wasn't the Social Warfare Agency, that saved her, healed her and gave her a new reality.
A reality that protects others from the fate she had, smells like gunpowder and tastes like blood.
Should she be thankful? Regretful? Comply or rebel?
She know it not.
She can not know.
When the Agency took her in and made of her a weapon, she received "conditioning" -letter soup for brainwashing-.
So, ultimately, the question will inevitably be: Is this ethically acceptable? Isn't this fight terrorism with terror?
And still, why little girls? Couldn't they do it with grown man? Wouldn't it be more socially acceptable to do so?
Well, conditioning (brainwashing) works better with little kids.
Gunslinger Girl is a heavy and exhaustive drama, that constantly shifts through cruelty, social criticism and glimpses of hope for a better world. All in form of TV animation, and you watch it... for entertainment.
It's not something you will easily forget on the day after, and comedy lovers might stop reading right here because there's none of it.
It's filled with angst, suffering, and violence. But not graphic violence like similar titles with little assassin girls -up high Elfen Lied-.
Wisely enough, this series' strength, instead, lies on the reflexive dialogues and the godly character design provided by Madhouse.
This doesn't mean, though, that there is no beauty on it. Love, empathy and hope sprouts even on the most unlikeable of the situations, and this story surely proves it.
The content of the script is close in mood of the paragraphs above. It does not have many action sequences (a shame, as they are still gorgeously animated) but rather shows the common daily life of the characters, that, on the surface won't portrait the sadness it actually carries.
It's a master of immersion, and that's what hits most of us the most. As you start to sympathize with a character and his/her actions, comes something that makes you doubt him and his morals. But this is no easy thing because as the series constantly makes you judge characters' decisions, it brings to the table whether you'd not do the same thing were you on their position.
This strongly contributes to the deep character design, but unfortunately not so much to their development.
While these are complex characters with marvelously written personalities and the most convoluted pasts orienting their actions, Gunslinger Girl fails at delivering an actual development (alike the manga, which only focused on it after 5+ volumes). This doesn't affect much of the overall job, but leaves a huge gap on the script.
Perhaps, though, this was intentional, as a result of the discussed bellow:
The story is organized in a floating time-line.
It does not make clear at the start of an episode if that happened after or prior to what you just watched and you'd only get such information by hints thru it. It's imaginable that some situations would be easy to set on a straight time-line but one will notice as he watches that such thing is not necessarily true for Gunslinger Girl and the reason itself is part of the story.
Director Morio Asaka's intention with that was to show that all of that could be happening right now/at any moment, but ultimately, it evokes a strong melancholy as it shows that no matter what happens or is done, things are prone to stay the same.
Enough of story, Madhouse did used to spoil us when it came down to sountrack and artwork. This came out in 2003 and still got better in-betweens than currently airing stuff.
The OST fits perfectly the Italian scenario, and the ED runs smoothly with every episode. OP is fine, but also a puzzle on itself: It's a song by a Scottish indie rock band, with lyrics in English, for an anime set in Italy.
Art, though, has no mysteries at all.
One of the reasons this series makes so much emotional impact is surely attributed to character's facial expressions and body language.
The void look on the girls' eyes, the horror of their butchered foes, Giuse's struggling looks, Henrietta unsteadiness while in public, all of it along extremely detailed weaponry, with clear mechanics, and no "anime magical bullets" that makes curves or doesn't have shells.
It's no surprise that many of us, myself included, shall never acknowledge the existence of a "second season" as the studio in charge of that couldn't even dream of matching the quality of this work and just fucked things up.
Finally, I don't have a TL;DR for this.
The motivation for writing this review was that, after 5 years I finally finished reading it, and felt the need to spread the word.
Gunslinger Girl (manga) is definitely not for everyone. It broke me several times and will only be fully appreciated by drama lovers.
The anime, however, shines with all its moral debate but also shades a soft light on... Hope.
Yes, it manages to balance heartbreaking with heartwarming and show the beauty even in the most twisted situations.
Who else did that on the history of this industry?
Gunslinger Girl is a one-in-a-lifetime watch, and a must for any japanimation appreciator.
Despite the title, Gunslinger Girl is far from an action title. On the contrary, it is actually a drama that focuses on character relationships. While it does contain action, it is far from the main focus as there are only a handful of action scenes throughout the 13 episode series.
The show focuses on the Social Welfare Agency which, on the surface, is an Italian government sponsored charity organization. However, this is a front for the real purpose of the agency, a sort of anti-terror/anti-crime organization. A branch of this organization that directly handles these problems employs not only well trained gunmen, but also cyborgs that
happen to also be young children. The reason for this is simple, the mechanical modifications would be difficult for an adult to bear, but a younger human is able to adapt to these changes much more easily. Along with training they are paired up with a handler (the team is called a fratello, or sibling), and undergo a brainwashing process called conditioning. Conditioning is a process that allows the cyborgs to be more efficient and loyal in battle, but also shortens the life of the cyborgs.
As was said, the show is a drama, not an action title. The majority of the season is spent introducing and developing the relationships between the handler and cyborgs in each fratello. Some handlers are stricter with their cyborgs, while others are more coddling and there are those in between. The show explores the moral, psychological and social consequences of not only the fact that young girls are being used to fight terrorism, but also the entire concept of conditioning.
This is almost to the show’s weakness, though. The show is indefinitely slow paced to a fault and there isn’t any sort of overlying plot. The show spends the first nine episodes giving us character introductions and developing the concept, but the final four episodes are spent with two separate incidents. While this is treated as the ending to the show, it lacks any sort of proper climax. That being said, the show does a decent job with the characters and development. The show as a whole manages to tug at the heartstrings, though it never manages to really pull at them.
The animation is good, working best in the few action scenes given, though the action is usually one sided almost never inspiring much danger towards the protagonists. The music is wonderful, using a variety of orchestral pieces to slightly upbeat jazz for a few dire scenes. The soundtrack is beautiful and is the key in helping the atmosphere of the show.
In the end, Gunslinger Girl is definitely not for everyone. The show is slow, and fails to have build tension when needed. However, it is above average and should be watched by a viewer who is in the mood for a short drama.
Overall, gunslinger girl (GSG) was a fairly enjoyable anime. I gave it a seven for story simply because the ending was perplexing and somewhat inconclusive. There was plenty of shooting, but not as much as I have hoped for, then again I might as well be asking for a series based solely on shooting and action with no actual plot. I had no problem with the animation and sound, the opening song popped up in that it was the first anime I\'ve seen with an English opening song. As for characters, there are many \"fratello\"s (teams consisting of a GSG and a \"handler\") and their
GSG\'s character is all based on the handler. In the end, it\'s a little less shoot-em up than I had initially hoped for, but if you\'re into this sort of thing, then you shall not be disappointed.
using guns to create a moral wall with characters can be really hard. and it can especially be difficult to create a story where a young cute girl is competent with a gun or relies on a gun to stay safe. or at least it is hard to do it right. which is why nine times out of ten we get a gungale online or something like that. it's not always like this but for the most part it is.
this show is not however. this show is the complete opposite. and it is one of the best shows i have ever seen for it.
when a show bases all of the main characters on little girls who have no hope for the world other than being able to clear out a room full of Russian (or Italian or whatever) cretins with nothing but pin point accuracy and the sass of a P90. it sets a very unorthodox premise that also breaths life into the show.
this show has a weird thing where the characters have very little from the beginning and by the end they still don't have much. but this works because the characters are pretty much fucked in the brain from the beginning.
the entire identity and asteteic of this show is purely melancholy. even the positive characters never really have anything positive about them. there are no overwhelmingly positive characters which does not cheapen the experience because it feels like the show is not fully placing all it's eggs in the "wish fulfilment" basket. if a character is left with questions that go unanswered then it is not because of bad story writing and is more because some things don't need an ending
this is one of the most genuine anime i have seen so far and i have yet to see another on the same level. also that first opening is amazing.
I've found it rare to come across an anime adaption that keep character interactions believable and realistic. There is no need to have a character acknowledge communication with a series of grunts, or sudden eye movements. Reality is that the listener is usually quiet, especially during more dramatic scenes, and I found this anime is be exceptional at this, which I feel is one of the biggest sins in current animation.
Not only does the anime keep it realistic in said regards, but many others as well. There are no over dramatized emotions. Characters show many different levels or joy and grief, and it's easy to
tell just by their faces. With every character, you can start to understand how emotionally withholding they are, and how that drives the characters to act certain ways, there is no need for the story to spoon feed you their characteristics.
The character interactions feel much more (and I use the word again) believable with regards to issues they have, whether between all the girls intimately, or with their handlers in a stricter and more formal manner. You can tell they care for each other, and aren't all just thrown together for the sake of plot forcefully.
There are many things that this anime did wonderfully animation wise, but taking a peak at season 2, I wish Madhouse would have works on said season as well, because the difference is very drastic, and disappointingly sloppy. The animation may look dated, but the techniques used are anything but.
If you are watching this anime just for the action, then you'll be missing the main point. Many people complained that they wish the story would focus a little more on violence, but thats not what the story is about; the violence and guns is just what bonds the girls together.
In general, I simply loved this anime. Everything about it. I loved the art for it, looks very high quality no matter where you watch the show, if streaming or non streaming. The opening and ending songs with any melodies in between were in fact music to my ears. I was drawn in by
the story line the most, however, for it is like one I would have never imagined in my life. This is always how I compare things, to if I would have ever been able to come up with the story. Sure the main points of the story seem familiar: assassins, training school, young girls fighting, etc. But the characters and elements that develop a long with the tale is something that exceeds what I ever could have created. If you were an innocent little girl, dying for one tragic case or another, and there was no other cure other then to become inhuman, what would you do? The government finds you somehow randomly from the hospital you're at and gives you the option: stay alive, get a new chance at life, but with you're memory erased of the past and at the cost of becoming an assassin for the remainder of that life killing so called "bad guys"? Or, would you say no and die?
The story unwinds with 5 little girls who had made the choice to live; each assigned an "older brother" (their partner). You slowly learn the past of each girl, their struggles, and their skills during missions. But theres a twist; you also learn the partners past story and skills. At first I didn't understand why that was even needed, the anime story itself was already so good! But then it dawned on me: what type of person would it take to sell their life into secrecy and devote yourself to training a stranger, a random little girl? Each partner chooses which little girl to save and become partners with. Some are harsher then others and how they treat the little girls, as the girls newly developed personality starts to reveal this. The "older brothers" themselves have dark pasts that are portrayed slower than the girls. This is because at first you think you understand the partner and therefore understand the little girl, but then all of the sudden you learn even more about the partner; realizing that you're theories of why a older brother treats the younger sister a certain way is in every way wrong.
The anime not only has action, adventure, drama, suspenseful, and with comedy every now and then; but also a proper portion of romance. Though these girls are some of the best assassins in Italy, they are still little girls struggling to deal with growing up. Struggling with how to gain attention, first time crushes, and love. Soon, you start to experience their adolescence with them and feel yourself maturing with each new knowledge the character gains as well. Causing you to relate deeper to each character then you had planned, making their situation that more real.
Note: My friend read the manga, so if you plan on watching the anime (both seasons, like I did) then theres no disappointments or anything, but the manga continues with different girls stories at the company while the anime stops after the second season. Just a note if you start to love this anime and can't believe its about to end or did end.